20 Minutes with SYF Photographer Ty Dobbs

Ty Dobbs is a renowned yoga photographer and conscious content creator, who has been making SYF look good since 2018. His talent lies not only in his ability to curate and create art with shape and light, but also in the energy of his soul, which creates the space for his subject’s true essence to shine through. His work has taken him all over the country, and we’re grateful that he will be returning to SYF in 2024. We sat down with Ty to learn a bit more about his process and his art.

If you’re an SYF presenter and are interested in booking Ty for a private shoot during the event, please reach out to Ty directly!


SYF: You’re a Texas native. In 2017, you made the move from Dallas to Southern California. How did this journey influence your photography?

Ty Dobbs (TD): This move was big for me. Having studied Joseph Campbell and The Hero’s Journey for years prior, I knew that I was facing my largest threshold yet. With that being said, my photography bloomed out of the experience because I propelled myself into a land of extensive opportunity. From sweeping National Park landscapes, to significant portraiture opportunities. My art grew rapidly once I landed in CA. 

SYF: Growing up, you found joy in using cameras to ‘freeze time.’ What is it about photography that continues to captivate you?

TD: Photography always had that magical and fascinating aspect with it growing up. Now, I seek the use of photography (and videography) as a way to express oneself and share a message. I also still value photography as a “time travel hack.” It has the ability to take us back to a distant and forgotten memory… sometimes allowing us to feel the rush of emotions all over again, good or bad. 

SYF: You say on your website that you attended “YouTube University.” How has being largely self-taught shaped your approach to photography?

TD: Ah yes, the great YTU. Being nearly 100% self taught means I do not have a conventional way of capturing the moment. It also means a lot of mistakes, but those mistakes are often beautiful in their own way. Instead of going through any formal schooling where I was instructed on the “good and bad,” I was able to determine my own style and answers to each of those labels.

SYF: You describe yourself as a world traveler and a student of life. How has traveling influenced your work, especially in your Vista Views and Memory Moments?

TD: Travel is one of the most potent doses of education I could have asked for on my journey of discovering my craft. It allows endless subjects, experiences, and stories that each leave a lasting mark.

I consider Vista Views and Memory Moments the two pillars of my photography work. Vista Views is my landscape portfolio and Memory Moments consists of my commercial and portrait work. Both are equally as important. Vista Views are quite literally the epitome of the subject matter, while Memory Moments have contributed to the relationships that have formed via traveling and living different places. 

SYF: Having your work featured in art galleries, like in Big Bear, CA, must be exhilarating. How does it feel seeing your work displayed in such settings?

TD: It truly is exhilarating. It feels amazing! It has been a few years since my Big Bear gallery days and still my wife encourages me to find a new local gallery where we live now in Southern Utah. I’m sure there will be a time where I enter into the local gallery scene again. I believe pictures are meant to pull you in… and that is more challenging to accomplish in an Instagram post or digital screen. 

SYF: As a yogi and a photographer, how do you feel these two paths intersect in your life and work?

TD: I was a photographer first, then I found yoga — and then I married the two into Yoga Photography with the help of some great mentors (ahem… Robert Sturman). The path of yoga allowed me to be more conscious with where I pointed my camera. Searching for the light became more than just a metaphor. As the Yogi within me grew stronger, so did my desire to capture people living their purpose. That has contributed to some pretty incredible international trips and experiences at festivals all around the globe!

SYF: Having photographed the Sedona Yoga Festival for several years, what are some of your most memorable moments or photographs from the festival?

TD: I will never forget my first SYF in 2018, and just being amazed by the intention and community. It felt like home. Now with each year that I return, I get to reconnect with new and old friends. It has become one of my absolute favorite annual pilgrimages.

SYF: In your opinion, what makes a great photograph, especially in the context of a vibrant event like SYF?

TD: In my opinion what makes a great photograph is being able to feel something when you look at it. In the sense of SYF, that could be the beautiful, warm, and welcoming landscape. Or a participant moved to tears from a transcendental meditation they just experienced. SYF provides so many beautiful moments to all who attend. That makes it so easy to capture the magic — if you are tuned into its frequency. ;)=

SYF: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers who wish to follow a path similar to yours?

TD: I would say to go for it! If picking up a camera and pointing it at ANYTHING makes time feel as though it stops… then photography is probably a path for you to consider. Don’t let experience, or equipment hold you back. Seek opportunities to work that Creativity muscle as often as possible. Live in that joy and be prepared for the miracles that will soon follow. 

SYF: What future projects or dreams are you currently pursuing or hope to pursue?

TD: I am currently working to build a large online course database for practitioners of all styles. From Yoga to Acupuncture and even Detoxing, I have had the pleasure of working with over a dozen experts in their field. I have always found the quote “If I have seen further [than others], it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” by Newton both fascinating and inspiring. 

We live in an age where we can learn and develop at increasingly rapid rates, and we can attempt to consume a career’s worth of knowledge in a rather short period of time. This realization left me feeling inspired to offer a platform for conscious entrepreneurs to share their skills. I call my platform Inspired Conscious Content. My current mission is to help colleagues discover new ways to put themselves out there! 

SYF: Finally, is there a message or a thought you’d like to share with our readers and your future clients?

TD: To anyone reading that has NOT been to SYF so far, my first message is to tell you that you’re missing out by not going each and every year. The experience is similar to that of an intensive yoga retreat in some distant land. It will leave you feeling full and embodied! To anyone who would like to connect and hear more about photography, videography, or Inspired Conscious Content… Please reach out! I would love to chat and see if there is an opportunity to work together. See you all at SYF. 

Join Ty and other luminaires at the 11th annual Sedona Yoga Festival, March 14–17. Passes available here

Lead image, of course, by Ty Dobbs.



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